Real estate developers from various African countries have urged governments across the continent to muster sufficient ‘political will’ in the provision of affordable housing and creating the enabling environment through availability of lands and finance for projects.
They challenged leaders to show serious commitment to the sector and urged operatives to create a platform for exchanging Business-to-Business ideas, to learn and transact business in real estate.
The experts spoke at a Pan-African Real Estate webinar entitled, “An X-ray of the Real Estate Economic Realities Across the African Markets”, organised by the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV), Lagos State Chapter.
The Chief Executive Officer, TAF Africa Group, Gambia, Mustapha Njie, who led the charge said there is huge demand for affordable housing in Sub-Saharan Africa but the ‘political will’ to deliver the housing is lacking.
He, therefore, emphasised that the African real estate market needs the political will from the government to deliver affordable housing for the teeming population.
Njie said: “When I came into Nigeria, I always heard about this 17 million deficit. If you look at Africa’s population today, which is over 1.4 billion, there is a deficit of at least 100 million housing.
“In West Africa, there is a deficit of 40 million. When the All Progressives Congress (APC) government in Nigeria came to power about seven years ago, they said they wanted to do a million affordable homes yearly, but today, they haven’t done even 3,000 homes.
He added: “If we are waiting for project partners to come into the real estate market, the governments must be serious by providing the land to help the developers build affordable housing in large numbers. The second part is finance, people need houses but the mortgage rate is too high or not even available in most West Africa countries.”
The Chief Executive Officer, New Concept Investment, Egypt, Abdel Nasser Taha, said operators need to consistently exchange ideas to improve their expertise. He observed that Africa has common problems regarding housing, economy and there are business risks, hence the need to partner and co-pilot projects geared towards development of the sector and the people.
Taha, an architect, noted that the Egyptian government has embarked on creation of many cities to solve housing issues and rising urbanisation.
He said: “The government started by creating infrastructure, electricity, networks of roads for connectivity and strategic projects in each new city. There is economic and strategic planning by the government. There is also the integration between the city and the industry.”
The Managing Director, Pam Golding Properties, Zambia, Inutu Zaloumis, said the last two-decade has been very challenging for the Zambia real estate sector, adding that the country invested heavily into infrastructure development without looking at how the infrastructure can be monetised.
This, she said, resulted in Zambia being one of the first countries to default on the sovereign debt. According to her, the development affected the performance of the real estate market in Zambia.
On property titling, she explained: “All lands in Zambia are vested in the hand of the president, we have traditional and titled lands, which are owned by traditional chiefs. A chief cannot give more than 200 hectares of land. Security of tenure on land is guaranteed, there is no land grabbing and the process is digitised.”
Earlier, the Chairman of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers, Lagos State Chapter, Mrs. Olabisi Demola-Alade, said the forum was to galvanise real estate professionals across the continent, dissect and provide solutions to issues and factors affecting the real estate industry in the region.
NIESV President, Johnbull Amaeyaevbo, stressed the need to make the forum a regular meeting as the country aspires towards expanding the real estate frontier across the continent. He described the theme as apt and commended the organisers for assembling a team of resourceful speakers to deliberate on the issues.